I have now been qualified as a specialist practitioner district nurse for one year. It has been a steep learning curve and I have been fortunate to work with brilliant colleagues who have supported me in this journey. While there have been many highlights, it has not always been easy and at times I have felt completely overwhelmed. I had attended the QNIS conference last year and found it extremely inspiring and thought-provoking. I was therefore keen to return this year to pause and reflect on the journey I’ve been on, where I am now and to re-focus and re-energise for the journey on from here.
Who are the change makers?
Clare Cable began the day with a thought-provoking talk, encouraging us to first of all remember that change begins with us. In such a time as this, when it is easy to label ourselves as “busy”, how do we define ourselves as nurses? Do we focus on emphasising our clinical and professional skills, forgetting that it is our “compassion, empathy and presence” that makes us nurses? We were prompted to keep developing our self-awareness, reflecting on what brings us energy and joy – how we can connect with this more regularly? I found this a challenging opener – when did I last stop and dedicate time to consider how I re-energise myself, nurturing myself and re-focussing on the values I hold that impact my work?
While the ability to initiate meaningful change can often feel more pertinent to higher levels of management, we were reminded that even small-scale change has the potential for large scale impact. David Duke, of Street Soccer Scotland, encouraged us to consider that with the right conditions – security, relationship and purpose – everybody has the power to make these changes. So how do we do this – what is our role? Karyn McCluskey from Community Justice Scotland introduced the idea that when it comes to change, you either lead, follow or stay out of the way. What part do I want to take in this?
While considering change, we were also encouraged to consider something that is sadly so often neglected – kindness. Karyn McCluskey reminded us that kindness is more than just about being nice to each other but rather needs to be a fundamental component of our behaviours and interactions; Zoe Ferguson from the Carnegie Trust emphasised that kindness is at the heart of community empowerment. So what is it that gets in the way of kindness? We had an interesting look at factors that may place tension on our ability and capacity for kindness such as personal risk and sacrifice, formal regulation, professionalism and performance management. We also reflected on the ever-present potential for discrepancy between the way we might want to show kindness and the way someone wants to receive it, re-emphasising the need to always put the other person first. Alison Bunce from Ardgowan Hospice built on this idea by looking at compassion as “noticing, recognising humanity and taking action”. How can we cultivate kindness and compassion in our workplace? Are we allowing ourselves time to pause and just be present? When did we start labelling ourselves as “busy”, being swept along in the day-to-day rather than pausing and being intentionally kind?
The 2018 QNIS conference did not disappoint!
Being a change-maker who works with kindness and compassion takes courage, hope, resilience and humility – not thinking less of ourselves, only thinking of others more. We need to be open to the possibility of failure, viewing this positively as an opportunity to re-evaluate and prepare for what is next.
I came away from the conference refreshed and hopeful that change can happen one person at a time. Kindness and compassion build human relationship and meet human need at its most basic – when we really listen to what is important to those around us, we have the ability to create change. This is a hopeful message.